There are so many things I wish I knew that I found out later. One of those things is the knowledge that independent perfumers Sarah Horowitz-Thran and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz began their careers in a small DIY perfume shop on Newbury St. in Boston called Essence from 1989-1994. I blissfully walked past the shop not knowing two of the perfumers I would come to appreciate were steps away. Each of them was laying the foundation for their futures. In Ms. Horowitz-Thran’s case it was the formation of a nascent aesthetic encapsulated in her early perfume, 1999’s Perfect Veil. It is one of the best evocations of clean skin fresh from a shower. It was my introduction to her style of perfumery. I would eventually collect all the different “Perfect” perfumes. Each of them showed a perfumer defining the way she saw fragrance. They continue to be one of the best examples of an artist’s vision expressed through scent.
She has continued to evolve and the idea of “Perfect” has been left behind for new aesthetics to emerge. She remains one of the best independent perfumers we have. When I received an e-mail from the owner of American Perfumer, Dave Kern notifying me that a Holiday limited release with Ms. Horowitz-Thran was on its way. I was excited. These limited editions have seen Mr. Kern work with an impressive roster of the best of the best in the independent perfume world. It was only a matter of time before this creative collaboration would happen. It has led to Sarah Horowitz-Thran for American Perfumer Tapestry.
One of the emerging themes of this collection is Mr. Kern asks his perfumers to bottle a memory. This is a common inspiration, yet in these cases there is a difference. That comes because these are small batch limited editions allowing them a wide-open palette to create from. For Tapestry she chooses to look homeward to Holiday family gatherings. This perfume weaves a story of the love at the center of this Season.
The first threads set in place are the seasonal scents of cinnamon and clove, they are the weave. The weft is a fascinatingly crisp green apple providing lift to the spices preventing them from becoming too heavy. The cross of ingredients continues as pine needles and jasmine add the next row. The terpenic nature of the pine strums the indoles in the heart of the jasmine. It produces a Holiday-like pine swag hung on the walls effect. The fireplace is represented with the smokiness of cade. Ms. Horowitz-Thran splices it through as a subtle presence with amber representing the glowing coals in the grate. The final piece is what sews it together as tobacco and vanilla spiral through all of it tying off the knots of this tapestry.
Tapestry has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
I thought Ms. Horowitz-Thran had moved past her early collection. As I was wearing Tapestry the last few days it is so emblematic of a cozy family gathering that maybe it is the latest of her early perfumes. Call it Perfect Moment.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by American Perfumer.
Editor’s Note 1: This is a limited edition of 50 bottles that will go on sale Saturday December 18, 2021 via lottery. To be entered send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Midnight on Friday December 17, 2021.
Editor’s Note 2: If you have any interest in those early days of Ms. Horowitz-Thran and Ms. Hurwitz back in Boston. Mr. Kern did a podcast with them. It can be found here on Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/american-perfumer/id1439938731 or under the American Perfumer podcast series wherever you download your podcasts.
Ever since I regularly started receiving samples from Sephora I have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of what I find. There has been a great trend over the last few years of entry level perfume brands using some of the best perfumers. Most of those seem to end up in the fragrance section at Sephora. I think it is great that the style of these artists can be found in any mall. It also makes it fun when I get a new line and immediately think I recognize something. After the perfume has made itself known when I go do my research, I have an “a-ha” moment. This just happened with By Rosie Jane Lake.
Rosie Jane Johnston
By Rosie Jane was begun in 2010 by Rosie Jane Johnston and has slowly expanded its fragrance collection. In the past year and a half Ms. Johnston has begun to position her eco-friendly line with broader distribution. I must admit when I opened my latest envelope a perfume titled Lake seemed to be off by a season, or two. When I read the text to go with it, I was mistaken.
Lake is inspired by an autumn hike around Lake Tahoe in California. This is the essence of west coast fall; there aren’t the changing of colors. Just the chill of the air as you walk through forests of pines. This is the kind of perfume Lake is trying to be. When I tried my sample, I was immediately struck by how well-blended it was for a brand that advertises itself as green. If there is a drawback to that description it is many of those fragrances fail at finding a balance in the perfume. It is what makes the best independent natural perfumers so adored by me. They know how to be green and relevant. As I kept sniffing Lake, I was thinking this smells like one of those. Once I went to find out who the perfumer was. I smiled. That was because Sarah Horowitz-Thran was grinning back at me from my sample. Ms. Horowitz-Thran is one of those indie natural perfumers I was speaking of. To find her behind Lake was a happy surprise.
Lake is a simple breath of fresh air along the slopes of Tahoe. It starts with the chill of autumn air as lime fills the nose, and lungs. A fantastically subtle pine comes next. This is not a Christmas tree pine. This is that scent as the wind blows through the evergreens. It gets woodier and sweeter as sandalwood and vanilla provided the final ingredients. When it all snaps together it is like standing in the Rockies on a fall day.
Lake has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Nothing makes me happier than to know my favorite perfumers are finding a wider audience. With Lake Ms. Horowitz-Thran’s version of Tahoe autumn will make some new fans.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.
One of the best things about the biannual event put on by Karen Dubin and Karen Adams (aka The Karens) called Sniffapalooza is the bringing together of fragrance fans from all over the world. Through the course of the weekend event there are three meals where you share a table with, usually, somebody you haven’t met before. I have had the pleasure of having the beginnings of many of my favorite, and long lasting, fragrant relationships begin at Sniffapalooza. It seems like almost everything has sprung up from these gatherings except fragrance. That has all changed with the release of Bellegance Midnight Promise.
Carmen Schaye(l.) & Karen Dubin at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2013
At Sniffapalooza husband and wife Gordon & Carmen Schaye began talking with Ms. Dubin and from those discussions they decided they wanted to make a fragrance. Ms. Schaye wanted to create a team of talented women to make a fragrance to celebrate women. Ms. Dubin asked perfumer Sarah Horowitz-Thran to join and to complete the Fantastic Four of Bellegance, Ping Li would design the flacon. During the process of designing Midnight Promise they would return to Sniffapalooza and ask the group to pick their favorite from a number of preliminary mods. In October of 2013 the process was finished and Bellegance Midnight Promise was premiered at Sniffapalooza to bring things full circle. While this isn’t exactly an example of crowdsourcing Midnight Promise feels like it has had a lot of midwives on its way to the perfume counter.
Sarah Horowitz-Thran (l.) & Karen Dubin at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2013
Ms. Horowitz-Thran starts Midnight Promise with a wonderfully chosen duo of mandarin coated in cinnamon. Cinnamon has a sweet spiciness which is complemented by the sweeter citrus of the mandarin. Ms. Horowitz finds a nice balance and, as top notes go, Midnight Promise holds that chord a little longer than most fragrances. A rose damascene holds the heart and it picks up the cinnamon as a running mate as the mandarin fades. Moroccan rose often has a slightly enhanced spicy character and the cinnamon enhances it. The base is a panoply of warm comforting notes as incense, sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, and amber weave a figurative woolen scarf to pull tight around you for soft warmth.
Midnight Promise has six-eight hour longevity and above average sillage.
For those who have followed Ms. Horowitz-Thran’s previous fragrances Midnight Promise feels like a more luxurious and intimate version of her Love Comes from Within. There are significant differences but the spice/rose/warm progression is the same. If you’ve never tried Ms. Horowitz-Thran’s fragrances this is a great place to start as she has become one of the more reliable American independent perfumers.
Every Sniffapalooza holds promise in the form of finding a new fragrance or a new friend or coming up with a great idea. Bellegance Midnight Promise is the culmination of all that potential into a great new perfume.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Bellegance Perfumes.